A Christopher Newport University poll of likely Virginia Republican primary voters finds that Mitt Romney is leading Ron Paul by a wide margin, presenting the possibility that Romney could win all of the 46 delegates up for grabs.
The former Massachusetts governor was the choice of 53 percent of poll respondents, while the libertarian-minded Texas congressman was supported by 23 percent.
Romney and Paul will be the only two candidates appearing on the state’s March 6 Super Tuesday ballot, after other candidates failed to meet signature requirements.
The Virginia Republican Party will allocate delegates based on the results of the primary. Thirteen will be awarded to the state’s winner if he receives more than 50 percent of the statewide vote.
The remainder of the delegates will be awarded on a winner-take-all basis in each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. Three delegates will be awarded per district.
Write-in votes will not be allowed, meaning that the winner of the two-man race is almost certain to receive more than half of the vote. Romney is poised to cross that threshold, according to the poll. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Ron Paul campaign)
Last week former Virginia Republican Rep. Virgil Goode told The Daily Caller that he expects a close race. “I think Representative Paul’s fiscal restraint positions will play well in Virginia,” said Goode, who is seeking the Constitution Party’s nomination for president.
The poll also found that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum would fare best against Obama in a general election contest.
Santorum currently holds a four-point lead over Obama in Virginia, the poll found, while Romney holds a three-point advantage and Paul is tied with the president. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trailed Obama by five points.
The Santorum and Gingrich campaigns have been mum about how they would prefer their supporters to vote in Virginia. Presumably, they would want to avoid a decisive Romney victory, but neither have responded to TheDC’s requests for comment.
In Virginia, any registered voter can participate the Republican primary since voter registration in the state does not include party affiliation. The state party, however, announced plans in 2011 to require voters to first sign a “loyalty oath,” swearing to support the party’s ultimate nominee in November. Those plans were scrapped last month.
Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy conducted the poll Feb. 4–13 with 1,018 participants. It had a calculated margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.